Business COVID-19 Opinion Technology

Digital Transformation: When an Industry Evolves, How Do You Adapt?

Illustration of the future of a techno

There’s no denying that business leaders were severely impacted by the turbulence of COVID-19. The pandemic nearly shut down entire industries and even created new ones, forcing companies of all sizes to adapt and evolve to increased digital transformation.

As industries continue to change, leaders are challenged to integrate technology in all areas of their companies. Some are struggling to stay on top of fast-paced digital transformation in their industry while fighting to remain relevant in their field.

Where there are challenges, though, there are also plenty of opportunities to not only sustain a business in the new digital age but also grow and excel. Businesses have evidently already adapted to the digital world, with one study finding that 60% of executives said digital transformation was their most critical growth driver in 2022. Another study found that increased digital maturity can help companies and economies thrive. This has been illustrated in aspects of the education industry in particular, where the shift from print publishing to digital resources has resulted in improved teaching opportunities for educators. In fact, 86 percent of teachers reported improved teaching practices while using Edwin, an online curriculum-aligned ecosystem.

Nearly everything we do is becoming digitized. Businesses need to reflect on the world we’re living in in order to engage with their audiences.

There are five ways business leaders can adapt to ensure their company is keeping pace with evolving industries:

1. “Imagineer” SuccessIllustration depicting the future digital professional landscape.

Success is not a destination; it’s a journey. “Imagineering” is about imagining the success of a brand while simultaneously engineering modern ways of working. Ultimately, the overarching challenge lies in having an open mindset to bring new, never-before-seen ideas to the table. You need to imagine a future that isn’t there yet, and use that newly adopted skill to inspire your vision.

2. Remember That There Is No Right or Wrong; There Is Right or Learning

Learning from failed ideas is the most important aspect of scaling your brand. On the never-ending journey to success, failure is bound to happen. Being able to learn key lessons from those failures and apply them to future problems is what can set your company apart.

Never believe you’re as good as you can be – you can always be better tomorrow. This concept alone will drive shareholder value. There’s an old adage that says, “If you want to go from there, how would you get there?” and the answer is, “I wouldn’t start from here.” If you embody that attitude, you can always improve.

3. Ensure Your Team Is Open to New PerspectivesIllustration of a traditional in-person office setting.

Having a team of individuals dedicated to working with companies rather than for companies is a great indicator of success. Without appearing critical of your own staff, sometimes you need to bring in outside support to break down barriers. Once you bring in a new perspective, you have to be focused on that change. Make sure your team is fluid, agile, and keeping pace with the ever-evolving digital world.

4. Self-Disrupt

We at Nelson have 107 years worth of experience, and it’s easy to find comfort in that. However, discomfort is a good thing. We recognize that the education industry is evolving and that we had to create a learning environment that reflected how students live their everyday lives. That’s why we adapted, self-disrupted, and ultimately created Edwin, which goes beyond the classroom doors. By embracing digital transformation, and reimagining the role and purpose of education publishing, we were able to create relevance in the changing industry because learning something that is irrelevant isn’t valuable.

5. Do Not Fight Change; Embrace It

Illustration of remote employees embracing the modern work model.

Change is inevitable – embrace discomfort and shake things up. Let’s take remote work for example. Many companies initially struggled with digital transformation during the pandemic; however, studies found that 61 percent of employees who switched to remote work reported improvements in their quality of work. This stunned the working world at the time but has now resulted in permanent hybrid models across the country. By embracing change, you will be able to adapt quickly and compete with brands already ahead digitally.

Above all, business leaders need to recognize that you do not need to have technology experience in order to transform your business. Come to the table with innovative ideas. If people tell you that your ideas are impossible, don’t believe them. Problem-solving is the journey you need to go on. This may take time, but it’s possible, and the reward will pave a path for the future.

Steve Brown is CEO of Nelson, Canada’s largest and leading educational publisher with 107 years of experience developing curriculum-aligned materials and developer of Edwin, the digital learning ecosystem empowering educators and students across the country.

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